On the opening day of the Detroit, ahem, 2009 North American International Auto Show, we're seeing some interesting technology geared toward environmentally-focused consumers. The new Prius, in addition to offerings from Volkswagen, Audi, Honda, Ford, and yes, even that lovable oaf of an uncle, Chevrolet, are announcing major releases and upgrades for the sustainably-minded.
MotorAuthority.com is reporting that two enthusiasts are working on a sports car prototype that emits zero emissions and draws its energy from the wind. The car is the RORMaxx Formula AE (shown above) and will be able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than four seconds and buzz along for 200 miles on a fully-charged battery.
Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night.
I was five years old when this ad ran. I'm not sure I even had a bike yet. I did learn to ride a two-wheeler ca. 1966. This ad contains several signifiers of my youth. The bubo encrusted Ed Roth character, The Little Red Wagon wheelstander (which I saw once at Lions Dragstrip and later constructed in plastic model form) and the Sting-Ray style bicycle. As amazing as the ad is, the TV commercial will transport you back to the kinder gentler days of the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings. Advertisers back then could promote their products using gangs of kids performing outlandish stunts on their bicycles which today would give whole corporate liability departments the vapors.
I found this at Skate and Annoy who got it from the archives of Scott Starr.
Okay, I'm a little late to the dance on this one. Joshua Klein is a member of that new breed of powernerds spawned by our technological culture — you know, the kind of supersmart fella who didn’t get the memo about the natural relationship between brainy folks, aviator glasses and chemistry person hair. Here, Mr. Klein gives a presentation at this year’s TED conference on a subject dear to this correspondent’s heart: crows. I stand abuse here at the office for my admiration of our corvine cousins; but Mr. Klein seems to understand, and is figuring out ways to hack crows to do useful work. Prepare to have your mind blown out through your ears. Included with this presentation are two tickets to the gun show. Via BoingBoing.
Everybody thinks they can write. That is a source of annoyance to serious writers. Writers have invested time and thought into perfecting a craft and formulating an idea of what quality writing is. Imagine how they feel about celebrity publishing deals, hordes of the most clueless beginners who think that putting words on paper makes them a writer and now, bloggers. Portland’s Willamette Week recent things we hate issue noted that "I write for a blog" is a pathetic pickup line. A crazy person babbling at you on the bus is a public speaker but not necessarily an orator.
Technological shortcuts displace skilled craftspeople. This is usually accompanied by a drop in quality as the operators of the new tools get up to speed. If you buy an expensive tool you probably have to compensate by paying less for presumably less skilled labor. If blogging is effectively free where's the percentage in paying a really good writer? The answer is of course, quality. Some writers are more talented or more practiced. Some have special access to subjects.
I wonder if our traditional notions of quality can be linked to the technologies and economics of the day? Was so and so a great writer because circumstances combined to make them a focus of an economic and technological thrust to disseminate the ideas? Marketability is a huge concern if your production costs are high. How important was simple availability in raising certain figures into the pantheon of great artists? Surely there is such as thing as Quality that is not subjective?
I think quality has at its core deliberation. You need to focus your energies on doing something well. It might be possible to create quality accidentally and if we make enough stuff we might arrive at quality that way. At a certain level of mastery quality can be achieved effortlessly but that is because - through practice - the master has become saturated with the skill. Doing becomes natural.
Blogging has great cultural potential. It has become cheap for an individual to reach a wide audience. How do we spread a desire to do nothing but Quality? Teach it to the kids.
Forbes editor Dan Lyons, writing as Fake Steve Jobs, has a typically amusing and insightful bit up today about how successful makers tend to see every problem as solvable by their own particular toolset, e.g., Intel exec Andy Grove's belief that the pharmaceutical industry can be redeemed by applying the lessons learnt in the semiconductor business. Fake Steve, of course, writes about technology, but his point applies to every endeavor, including the design business.
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